Young Achievers: four land Nicholl scholarships
A scholarship in memory of a dedicated sponsor of Bermudian education has helped open doors for four promising students.
William “Liam” Peniston III, Nathan Titterton, Ryan Topple and Kayah Wilks are the winners of the 2020-21 Nicholl Scholarships, awarding each $25,000 for studies in medicine and business.
The scholarships named for Albert Nicholl, who came to the island from England during the First World War, were announced by the fund's trustees this month.
The windfall goes a long way for Liam, 22, whose family's support suffered through financial hardship this year when his father was made redundant.
The St George's student, pursuing a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery at Queen Mary University of London Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, said “emotions cycled through my mind quite quickly” at news of the award. Liam said it was “surprise and joy to begin with; gratitude and relief later”.
“Overall, I am immensely proud and thankful to have been honoured with this prestigious scholarship.”
The historic medical school, popularly known as Barts, comes with world-class clinical teaching, he said — and some steep bills.
On top of tuition and travel, Liam said the “costs of living in London for the duration of my studies are significant”.
Liam looks forward to qualifying as a doctor and joining the world of work in August 2022.
He added: “I plan to return to the island when I have completed my speciality training and gained relevant clinical experience.”
Nathan, 20, who studied medicine at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, has just finished his preclinical portion, and heads to the clinical years of the programme at Barts this September.
Halfway through his six-year programme, Nathan said medical school was “a long road” with few scholarships for Bermudians compared with the business sector.
The Sandys student said he was grateful to meet with the scholarship committee, and “honoured and humbled” to make the grade.
He added: “This scholarship is further acknowledgement of my hard work, sacrifices, academic accomplishments and community involvement, and it will greatly help me in the funding of my final three years of education at Barts.”
With “very little” chance of work over the next three years, Nathan, from Sandys, said the award would enable him to focus on studies.
The prestige of being a Nicholl scholar helps burnish a CV.
Bermuda has no teaching hospitals or training programmes for doctors, and after graduating Nathan will complete the two-year UK Foundation Programme for new doctors, followed by speciality training in the National Health Service.
Nathan's interests are anaesthetics, critical care and emergency.
He said he hoped at the end of the long path ahead to return to Bermuda and “continue to give back to the country that I love”.
Ryan, 18 and a recent Saltus graduate, said he had spotted news of the Nicholl scholarships in The Royal Gazette and read up on its founder, a “generous and humble man who did so much for the community and students in Bermuda”.
The Smith's teen said when he heard by phone that he had been successful, “my heart was racing and I couldn't believe that I had been successful — I was so excited and honoured”.
Ryan, headed for Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, added: “This scholarship will be a great help towards my Bachelor of Medical Science degree with a minor in business.
“This degree will allow me to keep my options open if I would like to pursue a career in medical underwriting or actuarial science or continue with postgraduate studies.”
Kayah, 19, from Pembroke, got word of the awards from the Bermuda scholarships website, while finishing her first year at Barts' Malta campus.
She said the Mediterranean island often reminded her of Bermuda, but with the long slog to a medical degree and significant expenses, she needed to find ways to “lift a significant burden off of my parents”.
Out of the host of scholarships available in Bermuda, Kayah said the Nicholl award stood out “because of their support for a breadth of degree programmes and strong emphasis on community service”.
She admitted the interview was daunting: there were many “talented and driven young Bermudians out there who would also be worthy”.
“Honestly, when the phone rang every emotion imaginable rushed through me,” she added,
“When I found out I got the scholarship, I was truly overcome with happiness, and I think in hindsight it was only after coming down a bit from that emotional high that I could really process the fact that this scholarship will allow me to concentrate my focus on medicine and lift a significant financial burden off of me and my family.”
Getting picked by the selection committee was a big confidence booster, as well as a birthday gift for her mother, who Kayah immediately ran and told.
She added: “I will now have the chance to maximise the university experience, attending workshops, exhibitions, events and seminars on a regular basis instead of picking up a second job to pay my way through school.”
The scholarship will allow her trips home during breaks and have a role in the community despite living half a world away in Malta.
Kayah said: “Being part of the community in Bermuda would give me the chance to share insights about studying medicine with people back home, and use my platform to encourage more young women on the island to consider Stem [science, technology, engineering, maths] subjects at high school and university.
“I would hope that me being given this award serves as inspiration for others like myself to dream big and believe in what they can achieve if they put in the effort.”
Bermuda beckons in her future, especially with a shortage of Bermudian doctors.
Kayah said taking part in Covid-19 testing with a team of others on the island had inspired her.
She said: “For Bermuda, the Covid-19 crisis has revealed significant gaps in health outcomes across the socioeconomic spectrum and highlighted the continued importance of health education and outreach to address underlying health conditions like diabetes and obesity.”
Albert E. Nicholl was known as “Nicky” to Bermudians.
Arriving on the island in 1917 as a chief examination officer in the Royal Navy Reserve at St George's, he devoted much of his time to local education, particularly at Dellwood School.
In his will, Mr Nicholl left most of his estate in trust to provide scholarships to young Bermudians for education at accredited universities in the British Commonwealth and the United States.